He was reviewing his finances. He’d worked two years. Now he had six months of money.
If I get fired tomorrow and couldn’t collect unemployment. Six months of the lifestyle to which I’m accustomed. About half to rent. Car payment. 30% of it’s interest even though the loan is 6% interest. The car was 16 grand but I’ll end up paying 29 grand if I stay on schedule. How financing works.
What do I have, he thought. The car. Some guitars. What else. My bike got stolen by the citizen offspring of undocumented whatever you call them now. Rent sixteen grand a year, shit not bolted down always stolen instantly. Like a doughnut on the beach snatched by seagulls. A laptop. An Xbox One with a used copy of The Witcher 3, which replaced a wife or girlfriend. 20 grand cash. 8 grand in credit card debt that had been charged off by the bank for two years now. That he’d been paying down 1% and 1% and 1% to keep Bank of America– actually Banc of America, their credit card division, from suing him. Garnishing wages. After paying 8 grand I owe $13,000 on a $16,000 car. If I pay a grand a month I’m out in about a year. Then hack away at the charge card. Call your creditor, Suze Orman told him. Ask to negotiate up to 50% off by offering one lump sum. They said fuck off.
Once the debt’s zeroed out I’ll still have the 20 grand. At that point I’ll have paid 21 thousand for the car; it’ll be worth 12. Other possessions clocking in at $1,100. I’ll have a net worth of thirty three thousand. The median for Americans my age. Except for school and a few months here and there he’d worked since fourteen. Farmhand on a cranberry bog. House painter. Laborer scraping pipes on a ladder on a scaffolding. 90 degree heat, face by a fan with sharp blades that sucked up every fume for miles. Brain damage. Body damage. Assembly line at a candle factory. Short order cook. Door to door salesman. Telemarketer. Register at a drug store in a neighborhood filled with the Russian Jewish elderly yelling and yelling about the flyer not applying to 32 oz. vs. 48 oz. Sunsweet Prune Juice with a Hint of Lemon. Views on Hitler softening. $4.25 an hour. Minus taxes. Janitor.
When I’ve paid off the car it it will break. Wouldn’t put it past them to have a chip in it. It reads the balance from J.P. Morgan Chase. If you read that in the paper it wouldn’t surprise you.
Another year and a half and the debt’s gone. If no additional purchases. No new TV with a higher contrast ratio. Deeper blacks. Even though a lot of The Witcher 3 takes place in caves. He needed a new mattress. Hips like an Irish wolfhound about to get mercy killed. Bones grinding into old springs. He needed new pants but 24.95 from H & M was fine. Who gave a fuck what he looked like anymore. He’d taken a work trip to Japan. A selfie at the Imperial Palace. His eye bags in sunlight like a skin graft from shaved scrotums stitched together. Black people get stomped by cops but white people wake up in their 30’s with a face that better be rich.
He was eligible for a 401(k). He read up. You can retire comfortably at 65 if you start saving at 23, said Forbes.com. Even with a relatively low yield of 6%. Every 401(k) he’d had earned 1%, lost 2.5% in fees. As for saving at 23: median household pre-tax income is $51,989 per year. Who saves on 40 grand net with a kid. It costs twice that for a school where gas huffing sasquatches don’t commit Rwandan machete genocide. Nobody has money. Nobody gets returns. We’ll all work till we’re dead. Eating shit, having to smile about it.
If I was married– if my wife could work part time. Cover rent. That’d be something. But there aren’t wives now.
If you’d invested back then you’d have money now, stupid, said Forbes.com. The interstitial Quote of the Day brought to you by Hewlett Packard. Hewlett Packard made printers that existed to lie about how much toner they had. So you’d have buy more toner from Hewlett Packard. When the machine told you your half full toner was empty you were encouraged to mail the old cartridge to Hewlett Packard, for the environment. Hewlett Packard then sold it to someone else. The CEO of Hewlett Packard ran for president. No one shot her.
If I cut back I can save two grand a month. How much more do I need. He searched Windows for “calculator.” It tried to sell him something. A feature of Windows 10 was you couldn’t just search files. You simultaneously searched the web with Bing, which offered monetized suggestions. They sold you the machine and the machine sold you things you auto-payed every month until they became invisible. He paid for Microsoft Office every month, for iCloud every month. He paid for his car every month; when he took it in for service the man told him he couldn’t check the brakes. These tires are so bald it’s dangerous for me to take the wheels off. You shouldn’t even be driving this car. They’d sold it to him a year ago. We offer factory spec tires: 900 parts, 400 labor. Financing was available.
He went to another web site and typed what he had and what he made and a 6% return and waited to hear how long until he could stop. The phone was ringing. The web site said 25 years. It was his birthday. He was 40.